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Algerian president Bouteflika vows to continue shale gas exploration despite protests

ALGIERS, Algeria – Algeria will continue to carry out shale gas exploration despite a wave of protests against the project across the country’s desert south.

Algeria’s ailing president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, said in a statement read out by an adviser that the exploration project would be carried out “until the end.” But he said a decision on exploiting the fields would only be taken once the exploration was finished.

Bouteflika said “preserving citizens’ health and their environment is the red line that neither the state nor any other party can cross” — an attempt to address the fears of thousands of Algerians who have demonstrated against the project’s potential environmental damage.

Last weekend more than 1,000 protesters marched in In Salah, the desert city near the project’s first test well.